TUPELO – After months on the campaign trail, Tupelo’s four mayoral candidates have honed their unique messages and styles of delivery.
Republicans Jack Reed Jr. and James R. Presley, and Democrats Doyce Deas and Kentrel Boyd have appeared at numerous events together, often reciting the same introductions and fielding the same questions from voters.
Their political personalities have taken shape as the appearances become more frequent. The candidates met at least twice last week alone – on Monday at Tupelo Country Club neighborhood meeting, and on Thursday at the Tupelo Luncheon Civitan Club.
Although Reed and Presley both paint themselves as conservative, their styles are starkly opposed.
Reed is jovial and light, taking as much time as allotted to tell personal stories and drop names before outlining his five-point campaign promise.
“I’ll try to use good English since my old high school principal is in the room,” Reed joked at the Civitan meeting.
Reed is president of Reed’s department store. A political newcomer, he paints himself as a fresh start for Tupelo. He wants to create jobs, promote good education, and focus on quality of life goals like safe neighborhoods and citywide fitness.
Presley is direct and serious. He smiles a bit but doesn’t attempt much humor, although some of his answers get chuckles.
“In our households, we’ve got needs and wants,” Presley said while explaining that the city probably can’t afford new sidewalks. “Sidewalks are lovely. We’d like to have streets of gold, too.”
After a brief introduction about his family and job, Presley quickly outlines his top concerns: unity in government, wise spending and an open door to all. Presley is the manager of Mid South Machinery. A no-nonsense candidate who also is new to politics, he thinks the ethics report was a waste of money and mentions this at each event.
Like Presley, Deas also gets straight to the point and doesn’t spend much time on pleasantries – but she’s not as brief.
After four years on the City Council, Deas has amassed a wealth of knowledge that she readily recites during her introductions and when answering questions.
She wants to help small businesses, streamline government and promote diversity. Deas is president of the Learning Skills Centre. She defines herself as the anti-good-ol’-boy.
“The change that Tupelo needs will happen the very first day I step into office,” Deas told the Civitans.
Her Democratic opponent, Boyd, isn’t as direct. While flashing a radiant smile, the candidate illustrates his vision of Tupelo as the next Silicon Valley. Although he can belt out a brief answer occasionally, Boyd’s typical style involves flowery words and complex phrases.
“If I give tax incentives to new businesses, we can can wean ourselves off the expectorant of these tax revenues,” Boyd said while explaining part of his plan if elected.
He wants to offer tax incentives to new homeowners and businesses and require diversity training for city employees. A former school resource police officer, Boyd said he’s the candidate of change.
This is Boyd’s second time running for mayor; it’s Deas’ first. They face off in the May 5 primary, as do Reed and Presley. The winners of these races will advance to the June 2 general election where voters will pick their next mayor.
Tupelo’s next term begins in July.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal